Hardware Authentication Keys for 2FA

Keeping your company’s computer systems secure needs to be a major priority given how today’s world is filled with cybersecurity threats. If you allow sensitive data to be stolen from your organization, you are putting your customers at risk, and your company’s reputation will be ruined for years (if you are able to survive it at all). The most vulnerable point on any computer network will always be where end-users access the systems. This is because the systems still need to be easy enough for employees and other authorized users to log in. This constraint puts some limitations on how you can lock them down.

 

Most systems today allow users to log in simply by using a username and password. This method is pretty basic—too basic, actually. The major drawback to it is that it leaves systems vulnerable to being breached if IDs and passwords are stolen, or they are compromised through simple brute force attacks. One of the best options to make systems far more secure for data security management is to use two-factor authentication (2FA), which requires both a password and some type of hardware authentication. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of hardware authentication for 2FA to see if it is a good option for your organization.

How Does Hardware Authentication Work?

Hardware authentication works by ensuring no one can log on to a system without both a valid ID/password and a physical piece of hardware that is assigned to a specific individual. The hardware can either display a number that changes regularly and needs to be entered, or it can work by validating that the user is approved to log on when it is inserted into a port (typically a USB port) of a computer.

 

If you want even more security, you can get hardware authentication devices that require some type of biometric authentication, such as a fingerprint, in order to be activated. With this type of solution, hackers cannot use the device even if they steal it from the actual user.

Pros of Hardware Authentication for 2FA

There are many significant advantages to using hardware authentication for 2FA that make it worth the effort for many companies. Some of the most significant reasons for setting up this technology include:

 

  • Assigned to Individuals — Each hardware key is assigned to a specific individual, which maximizes the security it provides.

 

  • Can be Used on Any Computer— Since the user takes the hardware with them, they can use it to log on to any computer on the network simply by plugging it in.

 

  • Centrally Managed — The hardware keys are managed centrally so keys can be assigned out to employees as needed. If a key is stolen or lost, your security or administration teams can disable the hardware quickly to minimize potential risk.

Cons of Hardware Authentication for 2FA

Of course, there are some downsides to using hardware authentication for 2FA. Take a look at some of the reasons some companies are hesitant to set up this type of security on their systems:

 

  • User Downtime when Lost — If a user loses their key or it’s stolen, they will not be able to log in to the company network until a new key is issued. Depending on how this is set up, it could result in several days of lost productivity.

 

  • Cost of Hardware — There are many types of hardware authentication devices available, but they all cost money. One of the most popular options is made by Yubico, and each key costs about $50.

 

  • Not 100% Secure — While far more secure than just an ID and password, they cannot guarantee absolute security. If a key is found or stolen by a hacker who is able to also get the user’s ID and password, they can access the systems. This risk can be mitigated further by using a hardware authentication device that also uses biometric authentication.

Make Sure Your System Security Is Handled Properly

Whether you want to use hardware authentication for your 2FA system or not, you need to take digital security seriously. One of the best ways to handle data security management is to partner with experts that offer IT services in Mountain View, the greater Bay Area, and Central Valley like the ones at GSDSolutions. When you do this, you can be sure that whatever security solution you want to use is set up and managed correctly to keep your systems are safe. Data security management is more important than ever, so make sure you are taking the right steps to get it done right.

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